Philip Van Kirk

Philip Neal Van Kirk, 75, passed away on January 30, 2018 at Care One Nursing Home. He was born on June 21, 1942 and grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois with his mother, Ruth Van Kirk; father Neal Van Kirk; brother Robert Van Kirk and sisters Donna Van Kirk and Carol Van Kirk.

The family moved to New Jersey and he spent his senior year at Westfield High School in New Jersey. He then graduated from The College of William & Mary, where he met his wife, Mary Elizabeth Van Lear. After graduation in 1964, Philip was recruited by IBM and moved from sales to management in the Southern region. Philip and Mary married in 1965. While living in North Carolina, they welcomed their first child, Larisa Lind Van Kirk in 1967 and experienced the joy of a son, Philip Gregory Van Kirk, in Virginia in 1969.

Through corporate transfers with IBM, the family made life-long friends in their early years in the South, including New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee. The Van Kirks moved to New Jersey in 1977 when Philip became an executive with Schering Plough (now Merck). He later became a Partner in Ernst & Young's information technology practice. All along, he supported his wife, Mary, who managed her own career and was the first woman to earn an officer position in a well-known company based in the Northeast.

During his life, Philip focused on family and was an active "networker" to maintain friendships with families from his early days in Illinois, his William & Mary friends, the friends he and Mary treasured from their years in the South, as well as in Harding, New Jersey, and beyond. He also devoted his time, effort, strategic advice and kindness to numerous worthy causes. Philip, along with his wife Mary, established a scholarship fund when they were in their late 40's to benefit a William & Mary freshman student for his or her college years. Philip also served as the Reunion class of 1964 Chairperson several times and was appointed to the William & Mary President's Council. He also spent nearly 40 years serving countless hours at the First Presbyterian Church in New Vernon in numerous capacities, including Session and Grounds. He served as a literacy volunteer for adults in Morristown. In addition, Philip and Mary contributed their time, effort and funding to the non-profit organization founded by their son, Greg, called Community Empowerment Solutions, which is based primarily in Central America.

After retirement at 53, he dedicated much of his time to the worthy cause of affordable housing in Morris County. He was passionate about this cause, as was his wife Mary. Among other activities, he was President of Homeless Solutions, Inc. and devoted countless hours as a consultant to Habitat for Humanity. Before her passing in 2009, Mary, along with her husband Phil, also managed the creation and other aspects of the "Farm at Harding" which is composed of many high-quality and stylish affordable housing units in Harding.

Philip is survived by his partner Jean Molendyke, his beloved daughter Larisa V.K. Gjivoje, with her husband Davor, his beloved son Greg, with his lovely Alison; his grandchildren Vedran and Elle Gjivoje; EvaLuna Smith Gartner, and Hudson Van Kirk; and his siblings Robert Van Kirk, and sisters Donna Van Kirk, Carol Wellford.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to Morris Habitat for Humanity at and/or to The Centro Explorativo education center in Guatemala (founded by Greg) at

A memorial service celebrating Phil's life will be held at The First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon, 2 Lee's Hill Road, New Vernon, NJ 07976 on Saturday, February 17th at 10:30am. If you would like to send the family condolences, please e-mail or or you can visit and light a candle with a message.